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The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Education Disruption



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The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Disruptions to Education And Returns to Schooling in Urban China John Giles Department of Economics Michigan State University Albert Park Department of Economics University of Michigan Juwei Zhang Institute for Population and Labor Economics Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Very Preliminary Please Do Not Cite October 2003 The authors acknowledge grants to support field research from Michigan State University Intramural Research Grants Program the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences The Ford Foundation and the University of Michigan Rackham Faculty Research Grant and support for follow up research from the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University Academy Scholars Program and the W E Upjohn Institute for Employment Research The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Education Disruption And the Returns to Schooling in Urban China 1 Introduction Over the course of the 1990s observers of China s developing labor market have noted dramatic increases income inequality in urban areas and many researchers have emphasized that a sharp increase in the returns to education over the course of the 1990s has contributed to these observed increases in inequality 1 Data sources used for recent research however often lack convincing family background variables to control for unobserved ability that may cause upward bias to estimates of returns to education Alternatively it is also plausible that mis measured education could be causing downward bias on the coefficient on years of education and that actual returns to education could be even higher than those cited in recent studies In this paper we make use of a dataset with an abundance of family background variables proxies for school quality and direct measures of adult literacy to control for potential upward bias caused by unobserved ability Next we use disruptions to educational attainment that occurred during China s tumultuous Cultural Revolution to identify



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